Welcome to my 52 under 52 Flash Fiction challenge. Every Monday for 52 weeks, starting from Sep 16th, 2019, I publish one story of up to 52 words max. On my facebook page, I have asked for inspiration, so every story is based on a word or a partial sentence that someone has suggested. Watch this space!
She used to be useless. She used to be fat. She used to giggle when a man paid her attention, a compliment or dinner. She used to feel used. Then her eyes and mouth opened wide and she took a deep breath and she screamed like a banshee, announcing her own birth.
week 51 - 31/08/2020
Ma wife's a belter. Wee bit blootered mebbie, skirt pure short under cap'n gown, still fits an all. Creepin' Jesus winkin’ at her.
Auldjins on stage are struttin’ in foosty suits,
peely wally wi’ the strain of it.
That's her name noo.
‘Da, is that you bawlin'?’
'Haud yer wheesht.'
week 52 - 07/09/2020
The Very Profound Poem
Inside a dusty box, I found a poem, written by my younger self, addressed to him, my soul mate, source of agony and bliss.
Fuelled by visceral accounts of our passion and his perfidy I was determined I would never love again.
If only I could remember who I wrote this for.
week 49 - 17/08/2020
Four women gather round a bed to help a fifth. She’s lying there in agony, her stomach swollen and her breathing shallow. ‘Not long now,’ they promise her, ‘it’s over soon.’ Their eyes full of love, their chests are filled with doubt. Dawn gives way to dusk with no rest in between.
week 50 - 24/08/2020
My mother shoves a piece of carrot cake aside to add a scone to my plate, already filled with clotted cream and jam, before reaching for pie. ‘How many slices would you like?’ ‘I’m fine,’ I try but my resistance crumbles. She pinches my left cheek and tuts. ‘You’re getting chubby, girl!’
week 48 - 10/08/2020
He’s staring at the vortex now, the endless round and round, and longs for it to end. His friend Maheer is looking for true love, his sister Mhairie searches for perfection. But in that maelstrom of abandonment, our Daniel simply longs to find the matching socks to all his single ones.
week 47 - 03/08/2020
‘You’re a bit hard to swallow sometimes,’ he says, so she bottles it all up and keeps a lid on it, before retreating to the highest shelf. She clutches her chest and commits her thoughts to paper. Maybe she has to cast herself away before the message can be found and reassembled.
week 44 - 13/07/2020
Behind his closet doors, his spirit is allowed to shine. In his cocoon he heals from the mishandling of his je-ne-sais-quoi, until his spark ignites, incinerating all the walls. No longer he or she, they rise up from the ashes, and their wings are strong enough to shelter others, too.
week 45 - 20/07/2020
‘You’re sure it is a leprechaun?’ my daughter asked, suspicious. ‘Well,’ I explained, ‘there’s tiny boots here, look, and they are placed outside his cave. So, he’s inside, and he has smelly feet.’ We giggled for a while.
Today she said:
‘The magic was to have a dad who fashioned tiny boots.’
week 46 - 27/07/20
The astute cat
My cat cannot be fooled with ‘Nothing, I’m just tired.’ She will insist on lying on my lap, purring me into admission. I am not okay. I need that cuddle more than you will know. ‘Maybe just go to bed a little earlier tonight,’ my husband offers. I nod and smile.
week 43 - 06/07/2020
This flash is in honour of the Pride Inside celebrations that take place in virtual locations from 28 June to 10 July 2020.
Click here for the full programme.
I used to have a name, chosen for me by another.
Time to pick and choose myself –
I’ll have an LGBTTQQIAAP, please Carol.
What does that add up to? Too black to be gay,
too gay to be black, be a lady they say,
be a nasty woman. Be a man.
week 42 - 29/06/2020
Elizabeth Hopkins did not cry
Witnesses claimed the eight-year-old’s petticoats had been removed, the accused was indeed lying on top of her. Doctors confirmed her shamefully abused, with injury sustained. ‘Impossible!’ cried members of the Jury. ‘A child so young cannot be ravished, and we know she did not cry!’ The rapist did. He hanged.
(Based on the real-life trial of Stephen Arrowsmith, as described in the archives of the Old Bailey,
trial date 11th September 1678.)
week 41 - 22/06/2020
I sensed impending doom before the orbital spacecraft was even launched. I knew for sure when the first team member of the dramatic exploration mission declared: ‘We have visual on Mars,’ his ship already dwarfed by the red planet. It was true. There were no decent SciFis left on Netflix.
week 40 - 15/06/2020
‘Hello,’ I offer, but the ancient man does not reply. He cannot hear me speaking now, I guess. Come rain or shine, he wields his tools and perseveres in his attempt to resurrect that empty vase, that rusty caravan. ‘Cobwebs are lovelier in fog,’ he says, just when I turn my back.
week 35 - 11/05/2020
Thirty Birthday Cakes
You’ve been my son for thirty years, and I have been your mum. You learned to walk, to speak, to play alone.
I learned to grow a child, to birth, to bathe, to feed,
to kiss a knee in pain. We both helped raise each other,
we both learned how to live.
week 36 - 18/05/2020
Beauty needs no glasses
‘Oh, look at those delightful swans!’ exclaims my grandmother. ‘Where?’ I ask, confused. ‘Oh, the young, blind to the blessings of nature. How lucky you are to live close by a lake.’ I lack the cruelty to correct her on the issue of that corrugated roof, weighed down with large white rocks.
week 37 - 25/05/2020
The New World starts at Ten
I was ten when the world changed. The ugly beige wallpaper at the optician’s was suddenly revealed as a medieval landscape, complete with jousting knights, dragons, castles and princesses.
‘So?’ asked the optometrist.
‘That’s great,’ I said. But deep inside lingered a sad little question:
‘What else have I missed?’
week 38 - 01/06/2020
A Kiss on Quicksand
We sat on swings, beside each other, moving from left to right so that our hands would touch, beneath us playground sand. I pressed my face against the cold and rusty chain. You leaned towards me and your lips touched mine. It threw us both off balance, that first kiss.
week 39 - 08/06/2020
A predator in the field
I hesitate. Will it be safe to cross? I look at her. Hey, you, I shout, is there much danger here? Still masticating, she observes me now, her eyes are soft and brown, framed with thick lashes, a gentle giant. Oh yes, she nods, the danger lies in you. You kill.
week 34 - 04/05/2020
Riding on the Wild Side
The wolf pretends to be her nan, with big old eyes, all kind and frail. And yet she knows his game and calls his bluff. ‘You’ve eaten her, you monstrous thing, take this!’
She wields her sword.
And slain, the dead imposter’s in the well.
It happens when The Hood’s on meth.
week 32 - 20/04/202
Shooting a Star
One afternoon, uncertain of the purpose of his action, a newspaper man assassinated a star. He spotted it, took aim and fired, surprised how quickly it came tumbling down. He watched it lie there, flackering faintly. Amidst a crowd of onlookers, applauding his success, he wished he hadn’t, but to no avail.
week 33 - 27/04/2020
On Friday, not so Good for him, a bunny, dipped in molten chocolate, was buried in a sheath of silver foil. His body was displayed for all to see and guarded heavily. And yet, in Sunday’s morning light, when cleaning women came to see, they found it gone. Nothing but empty shelves.
week 31 - 13/04/2020
Freddy’s Verjaardaag Feest
It would have been your birthday, Fred, should I shed tears or raise a glass? Show sadness for the years you lost, give thanks for those you had? I miss your big fat hugs, my friend, I miss your wingnut-grin. That final ride at breakneck speed, it ended in a split -
week 30 - 06/04/2020
If I don’t check, I’ll never know. But if I check, I’ll know too much and can’t erase what I’ve just learned. What if the world has changed last night? What if the world will not? Each answer opens up more questions – a rabbit hole that beckons us, will we go down?
week 28 - 23/03/2020
The lion’s sad, he is wretched, woebegone and glum. He mopes and hangs his head, his mighty mane, once tall and proud, is hanging lower still. The tail is dragging on the ground. What happened here, my friend? There’s ham, I saw, I smelled. But then she went and closed the fridge.
week 29 - 30/03/2020
Oh, honey, no, oh there it is, that sound we hate, it’s coming close! That hollow retching, coughing sound. Oh no, please, God, please not just yet, and not with such horrendous force. Quick, grab him, quick, and get him out, not here,
not in the house!
The furball’s out.
week 27 - 16/03/2020
she left my womb and ran towards the open door been running ever since at lightning speed she dashed through all the doors at school never once paused never drew breath if one door closed she kicked it down if two doors closed she changed direction don’t stop my girl don’t stop
week 26 - 09/03/2020
Just itching to escape this dive, I’ll find another club. We’ll ride the Black Eagle together, friend, we’ll soar towards the flickering and bright. My mama always said aim high. Here’s just the tingle first, and then the prick: Oh yes, and YES and FUCKING SCORE!
We’ll dive and crash alone.
week 25 - 02/03/2020
The phone rings at 3 am. ‘Please, can you come?’ his mother pleads. We throw on clothes and leave. With tyres screeching for a break, we arrive, minutes later.
‘A spider,’ he exclaims, incredulous. ‘A fucking spider!’
No, my darling, no. It’s that your dad’s no longer here to step on it.
week 22 - 10/02/2020
A glorious day in the forest, foraging in fresh air,
kids, who needs supermarkets?
Try a nibble of this delicious mushroom, we’ll fry that with butter at home. Who finds most berries? Oh, that fluffy ray of light is just so beautiful, come stroke this tree.
Wait, are those badgers playing trumpets?
week 23 - 17/02/2020
Clobbered with a pee stick
Arguing in a cold one-bedroom, muffled screams under pillows. Clobbering promotions with a pee stick and two stripes. Mopping up coffee you’ve just spilled in a cold wet country whilst your other half buggered off on holiday to Spain. Mopping up blood in a hot dry country – seems easier than this.
week 24 - 24/02/2020
The troubles of drying laundry in the rainforest
He knew before the trip. He must expose as little skin as possible to bullet ants, poison dart frogs, wandering spiders and
never wear wet clothing, while travelling light.
A sitting duck to jaguars, rattle snakes and anacondas,
he stares at socks and underpants lined up in 88% humidity.
I’ll miss him.
week 21 - 03/02/2020
Hey, little guy. It’s clear you are the troublemaker, just like me, you’ll fit right in. Welcome to your forever home, little doggo. Wait, not there! Eugh, that’s disgusting! No, don’t eat that, that’s not for you. Oh, please please sleep, it’s 3 am! Aw, shucks, alright, you are my bestest boi.
week 20 - 27/01/2020
The girl looked pale, she let out a scream that chilled us to the core. Her mother ran to her attention, searched for the cause, but not a scratch. And then they turned to me, the single stranger,
next to her, alone.
But no one saw – the ice cream on the floor.
week 19 - 20/01/2020
Back to the Darkness
There goes the light. You so enjoyed the brief attention, but useful turns to used. Who needs you now? Too soon it ended, and again, you will be shut away, ignored. You bring a glow to winter chill, but it is time to part. What now, my friend, the pumpkin spice?
week 18 - 13/01/2020
Florence Ellinwood Allen
With heavy heart, she metes out punishment to those committing sins. Her feather of Ma’at seems light, and yet, each line she puts to paper will carry an eternal weight. How can her ponderous mind take flight?
The chair it is.
With both her brothers gone, what right has he to live?
week 17 - 06/01/2020
I am Immigrant, I speak Accent but I love Human. Each word look up in dictionary, then checked as it should be. And by the time I understand, my thoughts and dreams will have been dubbed. With taxes higher than my first years’ salary ought to have been. The future’s perfectly tense.
week 16 - 30/12/2019
The Green Eggs and Ham challenge
The challenge was phrased as follows: "Could you do a Green Eggs and Ham style story, longer story with only 50 words and lots of repetition?" So here are all the words used in Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss, endlessly repeated using the might of MSDOS. So ha!
week 15 - 23/12/2019
The Hotel Lift
Beads of sweat are forming on Lisa’s forehead. All that garlic, not a great choice with IBS. With gas bubbles ramming her sphincter, she moves to the back of the lift. Clench buttocks, think of…rabbits knitting hats, splashing in puddles, folding sheets! Nope, too late.
Oh god, we’re sharing rooms tonight.
week 14 - 16/12/2019
Her double-dealing Judas kiss was quite the revelation. Where fondness for affinities erases lines, it cuts the bonds once shared. She craves his lust, stays blind to her affection. Her loyalty is drug-induced; the honey of her smile ferments.
Keep swaying to that rhythm girl, the floor will be all yours.
week 13 - 09/12/2019
This buccaneer prefers the crow’s nest to the berth, despite a surging storm. With shivering timbers, aye, we will prevail, our skull and bones won’t break! A few weeks more, and yellow fever notwithstanding, the treasure will be ours. “Come on, my girl, it’s time for tea!” “Oh mum, five minutes more!”
week 11 - 25/11/201
The alternative reality of Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen emerged from a hidden passage in Rupertsberg monastery, enveloped in a heavy, skunky scent. As if in trance, just swaying by her desk, she scratched down symbols, brought forth angelic voices, visions, grasslands touched by dew. The feathers of her mind grew wings,
and yet, where did she go?
week 12 - 02/12/2019
Murder at the dinner table
“Clearly a disorganised psychopath,” I say with the authority of two Mindhunter seasons. “He stabbed her, torched her and beat her to death with a fire-extinguisher.” “But what if he WAS organised,” exclaims my son, “with knife, matches and extinguisher neatly lined up?”
Shared dinners are so important for family bonding.
week 10 - 18/11/2019
I’m gawping now: a vulnerable fluff of ego perched upon his head. One gust of wind and there they’d go: virility and self-belief. As tension mounts, I want to take his hand and lead him to the barbers. There. Now that it’s gone, you’ll have to BE strong, not pretend.
week 9 - 11/11/2019
The wise man will be reading from the scroll – and you'll be liberated from the pain of loss and insignificance. Received with zeal, the dragon will be yours, the rhythm of his sway betray his adoration. A great escape, my queen,
the day when you'll inherit
that pet lizard from your aunt.
week 8 - 04/11/2019
The Haggis Crisp
“We are a nation,” said the crisp, “with new peculiar tastes.” “What guff,” the others cried at once, “stick with the status quo!” But in that Haggis crisp we taste rebellion, dreams and hope. Aye, here we are, we want that crisp, and when do we want it? Now!
additional - on 02/11/2019
Weak-kneed, I queue to meet my heroine,
whose Nordic noir can chill you to the core. I’m neither equal nor adept, yet here she comes. She takes my book and, with a smile,
signs “gangi vel!”
I giggle, lost for words, but certain now that
I belong to Bloody Scotland, too.
week 7 - 28/10/2019
Hairy backed men
The massive silverback is close – his giant hand can stroke my skin. With deference, I breathe his scent, he smells of jungle and hot musk. Drenched in testosterone and sweat, I wake with guilt and grasp for just a strand of here and now. Instead, I feel the reassuring warmth of you.
week 6 - 21/10/2019
The Goldblum Trap
Goldblum digs out a ringing phone from a large pile of dung. Kids like Connel find steaming mounds of shit inside their phones: the deaths,
me-toos, environmental doom, sprinkled with food porn pouts. And yet, day after day, they dive right in. Mistaking beatings for connection,
they reek of loneliness and fear.
week 5 - 14/10/2019
Club 27 passed me by, now it’s Club 50 Scotrail card. Grey hair, soft flesh and comfy pants are playing hide and seek, and yet I hear them giggle. Conductor guy exclaims that I don’t look my age, and I am lost for words, offended by my smile. How can I not?
week 4 - 07/10/2019
It’s her birthday, but something is missing. A white hole in her chest, she paints another woman’s face onto her own – it’s not enough. She dresses for her party, rehearses selfie smirks – they look offbeat.
One of these days she’ll find a penny on the ground
and walk right past.
week 3 - 30/09/2019
When talent met imagination, both were still green, but soon their chroma deepened and they were joined by a small splash of pink. In early years, she would turn blue and he burst into red, accusing one another of having crossed the line. Yet, over time, they comfortably mellowed into grey.
week 2 - 23/09/2019
I remember the smell of sanctuary: wood dye vapours, exhaled by panels all around, mellow at first, pungent in the midday heat. Guarded by hedge shears, secateurs and canes, I curled up underneath my blanket wing.
The monsters – lived out there.
week 1 - 16/09/2019
From early youth, the men have dedicated lives to this black beauty. By candlelight they teased her, wooed her, whispered of the lustre of her anthracite, until, at last, they caught a glimpse of all her glory — and took her judd by judd.
And yet, in turn, ignited by their passion, she took their breath, drilled deep beneath their skin. Intoxicating scents remained — for better or for worse.
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